IoT Platform Sensors: 5 Characteristics To Explore

Sensors and IoT Platforms

Much has been written about the promise of predictive analytics and how IoT data can improve operational efficiency, reduce downtime, and save money for the enterprise. In contrast, little is written about the sensors gathering the data that is fed into the predictive analytics engine. Panduit’s white paper, “E.S.P. for IoT Platforms,” discusses the characteristics to consider when deploying measurement sensors and how to determine the importance of specifications depending on sensor type and deployment location.

Sensor Types

There are three types of sensors: indicators, counters, and measurement.

  1. Indicators are relatively straight forward – they are either on or off. They show when something has occurred, for example, when someone has opened and accessed a panel.
  2. Counters can keep a running tally of a series of events. An example is a tachometer that counts the number of revolutions of a shaft or axle. Both indicators and counters are examples of digital sensors. They monitor and report discrete events. Relatively speaking, they are simple sensors.
  3. Measurement sensors are more sophisticated. They report on the amount of a physical entity, such as weight, or on an environmental attribute, such as temperature. Rather than reporting discrete events, they report where one is on a continuous scale.

Sensor Characteristics

When choosing sensors for your IoT platform, there are five characteristics you should consider.

  1. Accuracy
    Accuracy is the ability of a sensor to provide a true measurement of whatever the sensor is monitoring. There is an uncertainty with the measurement, usually represented as a percentage of full scale.
  2. Repeatability
    Repeatability is the ability of a sensor to provide a constant output when there is a constant input, when acquiring a new sample.
  3. Linearity
    Linearity is a measure of how well the sensor’s response curve approaches a straight line.
  4. Sensitivity
    A sensor’s sensitivity is the amount the input to the sensor must change to detect any change in the output.
  5. Environmental Impact
    Changes in the environment can impact the performance and accuracy of a sensor. For example, some sensors are particularly sensitive to temperature and humidity.

When selecting a sensor, you should also determine which attributes are important to your application. In a benign environment, the environmental impact on the sensor’s performance may not be that important, whereas it may be a consideration if the application is outdoors.

The tradeoff you need to make when selecting a measurement sensor is the level of specificity you require for that attribute versus cost. For example, a temperature sensor monitoring a pizza oven does not need to be as accurate as one monitoring a pharmaceutical process. A temperature sensor with an accuracy of ±0.01°C will be more expensive than one with an accuracy of ±1°C.

To learn more about why sensors are important for your IoT platform, download Panduit’s
E.S.P. for IoT Platforms” white paper – or subscribe to our blog to access all the papers in our IoT “101” white paper series.

The Role Packet Loss Plays in IT and OT Network Performance

Nobody likes a bad packet.

Depending on the network architecture, however, IT and OT network managers look at packet loss differently.

The impact of packet loss

Packet loss negatively impacts IT/OT convergence by reducing throughput and increasing latency. IT and OT network managers look at packet loss differently.

Why do these managers have unique reasons for wanting to banish bad packets? Panduit’s “What is the Impact of Packet Loss?” white paper answers this question, by discussing issues both IT and OT managers encounter as they transform their networks to support business success in the IIoT era.

Reduced throughput
IT network managers dislike packet loss because it steals valuable bandwidth, reducing the link’s available throughput. Typical latency of the enterprise network is responsive enough for their applications.

There is an insatiable appetite for more throughput in enterprise networks, however, not to mention the demand from the myriad connected devices in our homes and in our offices.

A corrupted packet reduces throughput when the switch discards the packet, and again when it is re-sent – essentially causing the packet to be sent twice and reducing a network’s available throughput.

Increased latency
OT network managers look at corrupted packets through a different lens. On the factory floor, a network’s latency is more important than bandwidth or throughput.

For example, when a sensor on the factory floor sends a packet to request an action, it needs the response in milliseconds. The corrupted packet cannot deliver the request, and the retransmission delays the decision on the appropriate action to take. This event can be costly.

IT/OT Convergence
According to Craig Resnick, vice president of ARC Advisory Group, “to properly address the issue of minimizing the corruption of packets requires the convergence of IT and OT, both from a networking infrastructure perspective and a human resources perspective. Converged network architectures bring together IT and OT systems that have long remained separate. As a result, IT and OT professionals who previously only oversaw their own individual systems now must also understand the counterpart technologies to, for example, help eliminate corrupted packets.”

To learn more about the impact of packet loss and how to minimize corrupt packets, no matter your network perspective, download Panduit’s “What is the Impact of Packet Loss?” white paper – or subscribe to our blog to receive our complete 4-part series of IoT 101 white papers.

 

How Packet Loss Occurs In Network Infrastructure

Causes of Packet Loss

Packet loss reduces network throughput and adds to latency.

 

Packet loss impacts a network in two ways: it reduces throughput and adds to latency.

But why does packet loss occur in the first place?

The following excerpt from Panduit’s “What is the Impact of Packet Loss?” white paper focuses on the root causes of packet corruption and its prevention.

Corrupted packets can occur when they encounter a bit error as the packet moves from one end of the network to the other. Bit errors almost always occur in the lowest layer of a protocol stack, the physical layer. The job of the physical layer is to move information from one end of the network to the other.

Typically this information is represented by a stream of 0s and 1s. The physical layer does not assign any meaning to the stream of 0s and 1s because the upper layers handle that task.

Causes of Bit Errors

Copper Cabling/Wireless Connection: Outside interference such as lightning or other electrical noise can cause the bit error if the physical layer uses copper cabling or wireless connection.

Optical Networks: In optical networks, a bit error could occur if the optical module fails, causing it to have difficulty determining the stream of 0s and 1s. Other causes could be improperly terminated cabling, dirty fiber optic connectors, or water penetrating the cable.

Preventing Packet Loss

Proper Installation and Maintenance of the Network:
When installing RJ45 jacks, you may untwist the copper pairs more than needed. This could unbalance the pair, allowing electromagnetic interference (EMI) to impact link performance. Cleaning the end-face of fiber optic connectors is always important, but even more so at higher network speeds.

Proper grounding and bonding eliminate differing ground potentials between different pieces of networking equipment. These are examples that impact the receiver’s ability to distinguish the transmitted bit sequence that leads to corrupted packets.

Media Type: Media type, for example, copper or fiber, should also be considered. CAT6A unshielded twisted pair copper cabling is ideal for new installations, as it provides the best performance for most applications without the added expense of shielded cable. For harsh environments where EMI is present, you may need to install shielded copper cable or fiber cabling, which are immune to EMI.

To learn more about how you can prevent good packets from going bad, download Panduit’s “What is the Impact of Packet Loss” white paper – or subscribe to our blog to receive our complete 4-part series of IoT 101 white papers.

Preparing for the Industrial IP World Cup

The FIFA World Cup brings out the competitive instincts of sports fans across the globe. The strategies, styles, skills and depth of teams around the globe are tested and validated like no other sporting event. How much training and practice does it take to play at that elite level? If you have participated as a coach or parent for your children’s soccer teams, you must appreciate the long journey these players and teams have been on to reach the pinnacle of their sport!   Training, team building, and ‘play’ experience are all key factors for teams to achieve their goals whether on the soccer field or even the plant floor if you are thinking about transforming your industrial productivity.

Industrial World CupFor industrial plants today, a new competition is underway to produce faster, better and smarter than the other ‘teams’ around the globe. A key strategy involves enabling more teamwork, better decision making, and faster, more agile response by connecting people, processes, data and things in new ways. This market transition is referred to with varying names such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Internet of Everything, and Industry 4.0. One key aspect is how to best leverage the advantages of Internet Protocol (IP) which underpins so much of this wired and wireless connectivity – a new Industrial IP World Cup!

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